For the fourth year in a row, Geneseo Middle School is hosting a holiday gift drive in conjunction with the Geneseo Police Department that will benefit families in need throughout the Geneseo school district.
The effort, which is sponsored by the 6th grade student senate, started this week. Members of the community wishing to contribute may drop off items at GMS (333 E. Ogden Ave.) before or after school, and between 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. on weekdays now through Friday, December 8.
“We live in a very generous community,” said Jennifer Johnson, a 6th grade teacher who also serves as the 6th grade senate advisor and is helping coordinate the gift drive. “Over the last four years, I’ve been astonished at how many gifts we’ve collected and families we’ve reached. The project started in 2020 during Covid when we realized there was an opportunity to help. The police department jumped right in and we’ve been hand-in-hand ever since.”
Johnson said that while a variety of gifts and toys are needed, she hopes that those contributing will keep the 12-18 age group in mind.
“Sometimes with gift drives, it seems like the middle school and high school students are left out,” explained Johnson. “So, some of our students helped brainstorm a list of suggested items (see below) that those in need might enjoy.”
Once the collection at the middle school has concluded, Geneseo Police Department will be on hand at its station (119 S. Oakwood Ave.) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to accept more items on Saturday, December 9 during Geneseo’s Christmas Walk.
“We are fortunate to have a community that works together, whether that’s helping out a neighbor or contributing to our school district,” said Amber Berthoud, School Resource Officer at GMS. “It’s a tight-knit community that understands not everyone has the means to give gifts this time of year. If you have a little extra and are able to give, it is really appreciated and will help families have a nice Christmas.”
Beginning the week of December 11, the school district’s social workers, counselors and other administrative staff will come by GMS to select gifts for local families in need, then handle distributing the items. Any remaining gifts will be donated to the Geneseo-Atkinson Food Pantry.
At the end of the day, Johnson is hopeful that once again the drive will make Christmas a little brighter and more joyous for numerous families throughout the school district.
“I’m in education because I want to help kids and by helping families through this drive, it has a positive impact on the kids,” Johnson explained.
“It does, you see a change in them,” Officer Berthoud noted. “It could be a small little thing, but if it’s something someone really needs, their face will light up. It’s not about what they want, but what they need, and they are really grateful because of it. It’s heartwarming to see.”
Financial donations and gift cards are also accepted. Checks can be made out to “6th Grade Senate Toy Drive” and sent to the following address:
6th Grade Senate Toy Drive
Geneseo Middle School
333 E. Ogden Ave.
Geneseo, IL 61254
Suggested gift ideas for students between 12-18 years old:
Makeup, hair gel, perfume, cologne, deodorant, body wash, lotion, skin care, nail polish, curling iron/straightener, room decor, blankets, pillows, posters, sports equipment, baseball cards, Pokemon cards, Legos, video games, toy cars, technology (watches, headphones, etc.), books, clothes, art supplies, music, jewelry, board and card games, shoes, fidgets, snacks (candy, gum, chocolate, etc.)